Minnesota Farmer


Topsy-Turvy weather
April 29, 2017, 5:59 pm
Filed under: cold, Corn, Farm, forecast, Minnesota, planting, snow, spring

The warm weather earlier this spring convinced me that spring was here to stay.  I went to work refilling my stack of wood and settled in for the warm weather we expect in spring.100_3113

Unfortunately I did not keep access to some of the dryer wood.  Now the weather has turned cold, with freezing temperatures in the morning and a forecast of snow for Sunday.  That has left me scavenging burnables and searching for dry wood in tree lines. All of this in a time the calendar says I should be planting corn.

Many of my neighbors used the previous warm weather to plant corn.  I looked at the weather forecast, checked soil temperatures, looked for barn swallows and tree leaves and decided to wait.  I’m not sure how much damage is happening out there in that cold wet ground, but I was not going to chance it.  I was not the only one, with many a planter sidelined waiting for needed warmth.

Now the forecast is for snow and two more days of cold.  Then the weather reports says spring will be here.  If the warm comes as predicted, it looks like I’ll be starting planting this Thursday of Friday, two weeks after those early go getters started putting their corn in the ground.  If it will make any difference I do not know.  I just know I am happier for having waited.



A little sun, a little rain
May 14, 2015, 8:07 am
Filed under: Corn, Farm, Minnesota, planting, rain, seasons, Soybeans, spring, weather | Tags: , , , , ,

After a below normal moisture winter and early spring, the rains have begun to come.  We’ve had a little sun, a little rain, and not much for heat.  Still corn is beginning to emerge and soybeans to sprout.  Every time we get a dry period I see more and more fields that have been planted.  We are by no means done with planting here in Southwestern Minnesota, but we are getting closer.

The lack of heat is causing some distress for the corn plants that have emerged.  Long periods of cloudy wet weather leave young corn plants looking a bit yellow.  Then we get a dry, warmer day or two and the corn plants get a chance to green up as they draw nutrients out of the soil.

Topsoil moisture conditions have improved greatly.  Now they are almost a bit too wet when you dig down a few inches.  Still the subsoil areas are dry and that keeps the water on the top moving down.  I’ve even seen some recovery of small ponds and creeks as the rains continue.  That is really good news.

I’m just about done with planting soybeans.  I’ve been waiting for a tile repair crew to come into the last area I have to plant.  That crew showed up yesterday, and today it rains.  So now I wait for a bit more dry and some heat.  Once the soil conditions are right I only need part of a day to finish planting.  We’ll get the planting done when the weather allows.



Rain, Glorious rain

We’ve been in a bit of a dry spell here in Southwestern Minnesota.  Our winters snowfall was well below normal and spring rains have been few and far between.  This dry spell has allowed us to make record planting progress on our corn and soybeans despite cooler temperatures.

Frankly, I have been more than a little concerned about the dry.  Rivers, creeks and lakes are at low levels.  Field tile have had some water in them, but not much.  Any stirring of the soil surface has created lots of dust.  There is some moisture in the soil, but is it enough to keep the crops going?  We needed rain!

Today’s weather has helped that immensely.  In the last 24 hours we have now had about nine-tenths of an inch of rain.  Mostly it came down slowly, just drizzling out of the sky.  There were a few episodes where the sky cut loose, but not many.  This is just what we needed.  Crops will now be off to a good start.  When will it rain next?



Plant in dust

After two consecutive years of planting in muddy conditions this year was so different, and so easy.  I do not ever remember planting going start to finish so fast.  Soil conditions were perfect, the weather was warm and the wind was even bearable.

The old adage is “Plant in dust, your bins will bust.  Plant in mud, your crops a dud.”  This year was definitely a year for planting in dust.  We had little to no moisture in the top inch or two of soil and precious little under that. Every time you work soil you dry it out so I did as little soil moving as possible.  Still I worry that some of my seed may be in dry ground.

100_2694

Now we wait.  When will we be able to see rows of corn popping through?

This springs temperatures stayed cold for a bit too long, but when they broke we went right to hot and windy, but little rain.  I am resisting going right to soybean planting for now, but if it is dry again next week, I’ll plant soybeans also.  In the mean time I watch for rain clouds and read weather reports.  We need some rain.



Still a chill

It’s April 23, the day the University of Minnesota says those of us who farm in Southwestern Minnesota should start planting corn, but there is still a chill in the earth and I will wait.

The last few mornings have found ice in the cats water dish.  Frost on roofs and grass has been obvious.  Stick a thermometer into the earth and it will show temperatures still in the 30’s.  This is not where I want my seed to be.

I have not as yet seen one dandelion bloom.  Crocus, tulip and other early bloomers are not yet budding.  Only my pear tree shows blooms, the apples do not, and few trees even show the smallest of leaves.  The trees tell me it is cold out there.

4/23/2015 pear tree in bloom

4/23/2015 pear tree in bloom

There were a few days over a week ago when we had some warm weather, then the insects were out, but most days are bug free.  Because there are no bugs there are no barn swallows.  Barn swallows swooping around eating insects are a sure sign that the ground is finally warm enough to plant.  Yep, all signs say it is still cold in that dirt.

So when will I start planting?  I’m not sure yet, but come Monday I’ll check and see how things are going.  Frost is finally out of the forecast, but temperatures are not all that warm yet.  Also rain is in the forecast for the next few days, that will also slow us down.  If we get into May and have not yet started planting then the calendar starts to come into play.  We need to get that corn planted by May 10.



Dry start?
April 19, 2015, 7:15 am
Filed under: Farm, Minnesota, planting, rain | Tags: , , ,

It’s looking as if there will be a dry start to this planting season.  We went through winter with little snow and have had insufficient rain to really make a difference yet this spring.  We do have enough water to get crops started but how long that will last depends on future rain events.  Our area of southwestern Minnesota is on the edge of the driest ground getting just a bit below normal rainfall for this month.

So far ground temperatures have yet to reach optimal planting temperatures.  Tile repair crews and builders are still reporting frozen ground less than two feet down.  Some farmers have started to plant due to the great top soil conditions.  Although there is risk in early planting they are willing to take that risk.  So far I am waiting.  The forecast for two days of frost this week will influence my decision to wait.
So when will I start planting corn?  I’d expect a starting date later this week if all holds as forecast.  I still have plenty of projects to keep me going as I prepare for planting season, so I’m not sitting idle.  Stay tuned for the beginning of my planting season.


Hedge row

This morning it was hedge planting time.100_3048

The hedge on the west side of the building site needs to be replaced says wife.  I never did mind the mix of hedge plants, a few red twig dogwood and lilac with a few others thrown in randomly, but wife did not like it.  Lately the dogwood had been looking a bit scruffy and the lilac had been showing dying branches so the old hedge went out.  I did get to keep the bush on the corner, I’m not sure what it is, and a few lilac on the south side but that was it.  So now what to replace it with.

A call to the nursery and the suggestion came back with something unexpected.  They suggested 4 flowering crabs and a grouping of spruce on each end.  We talked it over, looked at the space we had and decided on a group of three crab on the south corner with a Back Hills spruce at the south end of a row of Chinese lilac with 3 more spruce on the north end.

It was chilly outside, 30 degrees, when we ventured out to plant.  The north wind chilled us for a bit, but as we worked the coat came off and the plants went in the ground.  By noon the job was done.

We ended up a few lilacs short of a complete hedge, but the next time the nurseryman comes by he will drop them off.  The lilac may even be tall enough to catch some snow this winter, but I’ll put up a snow fence to help them.  In a few years they will not need help.  Can’t wait to see how they turn out when warmer weather comes back.100_3049